Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Orenda Fink - "Ask The Night"

After Azure Ray split, Orenda Fink has been as busy as a female Bob Pollard with her solo album Invisible Ones, her lush pop band Art In Manila, the art/music project O+S and now her sophomore solo album, Ask The Night. While O+S was more of an art project turned band and an experiment with technology, art and music; Ask The Night is more personal and stripped down, an experiment in emotion and traditional folk music, recorded on a basic 8-track.

“Why Is The Night Sad” begins with gentle, sullen strumming and Orenda’s candlelit vocals for an intimate performance to open the album. The first single, “High Ground” features vocal assistance from Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse including his signature yelps with understated instrumentation such as mandolin, banjo for a modern take on Bluegrass. “Sister” includes a waltz-y time signature and beautiful vocal harmonies in tribute to her Southern Gothic roots. “That Certain-Something Spring” is ethereal and lucid with a floating melody and a lush atmosphere. The jaunty mandolins and banjo on “The Garden” combined with the violins hint at bluegrass without going over the edge and offers even more gorgeous harmonies. An ode to her birthplace, “Alabama” is froggy, back-porch Country music with a wistful and weary sentiment. Continuing in the collaborative nature of O+S, “The Mural” and four other tracks were written with Chris Lawson, a Birmingham artist and poet who also provided the album artwork. With singing saw and slide guitar, “The Moon Knows” ends the album, book-ending it with the answer to the question the first track asked…

Ask The Night is Orenda’s best work yet and at her current pace, we should expect an album or two next year as well. I am still waiting on that supergroup with Orenda, Maria Taylor, and Jenny Lewis (see: the interview I did with Orenda and Cedric of O+S).


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